Health | National

MPR: Cancer hits hardest among American Indians in Minnesota

Dancers at the 2014 Powwow for Hope in Minnesota. Photo from Twitter

Minnesota Public Radio reports on the high rates of cancer among American Indians in the state:
Cancer has devastated Minnesota's American Indian population, stripping families of breadwinners and robbing children of their parents and grandparents.

Nowhere is the scale of the problem more evident than the annual spring Powwow for Hope, where dancers dressed in vibrant traditional costumes escorted the survivors until their line morphed into a vast circle.

Overhead a projector cycled through dozens of photographs and names of American Indians who have lost their cancer battles in the past year. The tribute also included stories of hope and cancer remission.

Among the cancer survivors whose picture flashed on the screen was Robert DesJarlait, a 67-year-old member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. Ten months earlier, doctors removed a cancerous tumor from his colon.

When it comes to cancer -- Minnesota's number one cause of death -- American Indians are almost always on the wrong end of the state's data on the health disparity that exists between whites and minorities.

Their risk of dying from lung cancer is more than two times higher than it is among non-Hispanic whites. Their rates of cervical and larynx cancer are four times higher.

American Indians also have the state's highest rates of colorectal, kidney and oral cancers.

Get the Story:
At highest risk for cancer, American Indians struggle to change lifestyles (Minnesota Public Radio 7/8)